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Is Carrying a Concealed Weapon a Felony?

Are you carrying a concealed weapon in North Carolina? It’s a vital question with surprising legal twists. Dive into an engaging exploration of what turns a lawful act into a potential felony. We dissect North Carolina’s intricate statutes, revealing the thin line between rights and risks. This article is a must-read, offering clarity and insights for gun owners across the state. Join us as we explore the question, “Is carrying a concealed weapon a felony?”

And if you’re already facing charges, we’ll also cover what to do next.

Understanding Concealed Weapons: Basic Definitions

In North Carolina, the question of whether carrying a concealed weapon is a felony is thought-provoking. The laws dictating the line between lawful possession and a felony charge are often challenging to understand. The result is law-abiding citizens getting caught in the crosshairs.

In North Carolina, a concealed weapon refers to any weapon carried in a manner that is not visible. This definition of deadly weapon comes directly from North Carolina General Statute § 14-269. The statute classifies various items as weapons, including guns, knives, and other similar objects.

Notably, it’s not just firearms that fall under this category. Items like specific knives or even stun guns can also be considered concealed weapons if hidden from view.

The law specifically addresses the visibility of the weapon. A concealed weapon is not immediately noticeable by an ordinary observer. This means a weapon partly hidden under clothing or in a bag would be deemed partially concealed.

It’s important to note the distinction between open carry and concealed carry in North Carolina.

  • Open Carry: refers to visibly carrying a weapon without any cover.
  • Concealed Carry: means the weapon is out of sight. North Carolina permits open carry without a license. However, concealed carry of a weapon typically requires a permit, as per North Carolina General Statute § 14-415.11.

The legal definition of a concealed weapon is crucial for understanding the boundaries of the law. It sets the stage for discussing the requirements and limitations of concealed carry permits in North Carolina. Knowing what constitutes a concealed weapon is the first step in navigating these laws responsibly.

North Carolina’s Concealed Carry Laws

Securing a permit is the first step to legally carrying a concealed weapon in North Carolina. According to North Carolina General Statute § 14-415.12, applicants must meet several criteria for eligibility, including:

  • At least 21 years old
  • U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Residency in North Carolina for a minimum of 30 days before applying
  • Pass a Federal background check. In 2023, North Carolina repealed its law requiring a permit to purchase a handgun. However, firearms dealers must contact the FBI to process the background check required by federal law. The aim is to ensure that applicants have no disqualifying criminal convictions or mental health concerns. However, if you possess a state firearms permit, you are exempt from the Federal background check. (1)
  • Completed an approved firearms safety and training course, which involves the actual firing of handguns and instruction in the laws of this State governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force.

The law also specifies places where concealed carry is not allowed, even with a permit. These include certain government buildings, educational institutions, and areas where alcohol is sold and consumed. Detailed restrictions are in the legal code at NCGS  § 14-415.11(c).

However, some of the laws include:

You can’t hide and carry certain weapons like knives, stun guns, or other dangerous items except at your own home. The law doesn’t apply to small pocket knives that are kept closed and don’t open automatically.

You can’t hide and legally carry a gun or pistol unless one of the following is true:

  • You’re on your own property.
  • You have a legal permit for a hidden handgun and follow its rules.
  • You’re in the military with a special permit and show proof when asked.

If you have a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, you must follow these specific rules:

  • Carry Permit with You: Always have your concealed carry permit and a valid form of identification when carrying a concealed handgun.
  • Inform Law Enforcement: Notify any law enforcement officer approaching you that you’re carrying a concealed handgun.
  • No Alcohol or Drug Impairment: Don’t carry a concealed handgun while you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Restricted Areas: Avoid carrying in prohibited areas like certain government buildings, schools, or any place where carrying firearms is forbidden.
  • Permit Renewal: Keep your permit valid by renewing it as required.
  • Safe and Responsible Use: Handle your weapon responsibly and safely at all times.
  • State-Owned Area: You can only keep a hidden handgun in your car in a state-owned parking area if it’s locked up after you get in or out. However, you can carry a concealed firearm on state-owned property with a concealed carry license.

Breaking these rules can lead to a misdemeanor or, in some cases, a felony, especially if you repeat the offense.

Some people, like military members, law enforcement, and certain government officials, can carry hidden weapons if they follow specific rules. This includes not carrying when they’ve drunk alcohol or used illegal drugs.

Remember, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the complete details of North Carolina’s concealed carry laws to ensure compliance and safety. Consult an attorney working in firearms charges for the most current and comprehensive information on gun laws.

When Is Carrying a Concealed Weapon a Felony?

In North Carolina, carrying a concealed weapon can escalate to a felony under certain circumstances.

  • Possessing a concealed weapon becomes a felony for individuals with prior felony convictions. This statute underscores a zero-tolerance approach towards felons possessing firearms, concealed or otherwise.
  • The law also treats carrying a concealed weapon without a valid permit as a serious offense. This act is generally a misdemeanor. However, repeat offenses can elevate the charge to a felony. This progression from misdemeanor to felony highlights the importance of adhering to permit regulations.
  • Another aspect involves the use of the concealed weapon. If you use a concealed weapon in the commission of a crime, the charges can be more severe. The gravity of the offense and the use of the weapon determine the legal consequences.
  • Certain individuals may not ever legally carry concealed weapons. These individuals include those with restraining orders against them, as detailed in § 14-415.12(b)(8). Violating this prohibition can lead to felony charges.

In conclusion, understanding these nuances is vital for anyone considering carrying a concealed weapon in North Carolina. The distinction between legal carry and committing a felony lies in adherence to the state’s statutes and acting responsibly to carry a concealed weapon legally.

Strategic Defenses Against Concealed Firearm Charges

There are established defenses against charges for carrying concealed weapons, like if the weapon wasn’t a firearm or you used it for a legal purpose.

A successful defense could include one or more of the following:

  • The weapon wasn’t a firearm
  • Proving you did not conceal the weapon
  • You were on your own property
  • Demonstrating a lack of intent to use the weapon unlawfully
  • Challenging the legality of the search and seizure that led to the weapon’s discovery

Each case is unique, and these defenses must align with the specific circumstances of the incident.

An Experienced Concealed Firearm Charge Attorney Can Help

At Scharff Law, we understand the complexities surrounding concealed firearm charges. Our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal assistance if you face weapons charges.

With our deep knowledge of North Carolina’s firearms laws and a commitment to diligent representation, we aim to guide our clients through every step of their legal journey. Whether you’re navigating the nuances of the law, building a strong defense, or need representation in court, we are here to offer support and advocacy tailored to your unique situation.

Get in touch today for a free consultation and find out how we can help defend you against charges of illegally carrying a concealed firearm.